Are Performance Reviews Mandatory in the Workplace?

A common question we often receive is, “What happens if I was fired but I never received a performance review?”

As performance reviews are an assessment of an employee’s job performance, it is understandable to want to know where you stand with your employer. Communication is key in all relationships, and when your employer is not communicating with you, it may be especially frustrating if you find yourself wrongfully terminated without the opportunity to address any concerns regarding your performance.

First of all, there is no law in Ontario that explicitly states an employer is required to give their employees performance reviews. Even if it states in your employment contract or within company policies that you will receive a performance review after a set period of time, there is no law to enforce it.

If you find yourself terminated and you were provided with termination pay or a separation package, likely performance issues were not the reason for your termination. In Ontario, an employer can terminate you for any reason as long as the reason was not discriminatory, and as long as they provide you with pay-in-lieu of notice. There is additionally no law in Ontario that states an employer has to provide you with reasons for your termination as well, so although it may seem unfair that your employer has terminated your employment so abruptly, you should have your termination package reviewed by a lawyer to ensure you have received all of your entitlements.

Even though there is no law that governs when performance reviews are to be conducted, if you never received one at all during your employment, and you were terminated for cause specifically for performance-related issues or during your probationary period, there may be grounds to fight your termination. Another example, for short-tenured employees, if you were terminated within a year and after your probationary period but you never received a performance review, this could invalidate your employment contract and you could also have a claim for wrongful dismissal.

If you have been terminated and any of the above situations apply to you, it is best to contact an employment lawyer to have your options reviewed.

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